The brethren of Royal Oak Lodge No 5919 have, like the rest of us, faced the problems of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their installation is usually held in May but they moved it to September and duly elected their senior warden Charles Cuthill as master elect for the coming year.
Charles, as a dutiful master elect, spent the summer learning his obligation, preparing for his installation and the year ahead. Like most people during the pandemic, Charles had longed for a break in warmer climates and took the opportunity prior to the installation of a holiday to Spain. Two days after his return he and his family felt unwell and, yes you guessed correctly, the ugly cloud of COVID reared its ugly head and they tested positive.
The news was devastating for the lodge and all the hard work and planning that had been put in place for the installation; the meals booked, a table plan in place and the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Peter Greathead was all prepared for Charles’s installation.
What was the lodge to do? Cancel the installation or look for a superhero to save the day? Step-up Ken Rennison, junior warden of the lodge and saviour. Ken is a long serving member of the lodge who had previously shown no interest in moving to the master’s chair but ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’. And what about Charles? He is now back to full health and is ready and preparing for May 2022 when he will finally take the next step and be installed into the chair of King Solomon.
Now let us complete this story of the installation that nearly wasn’t.
The lodge was opened by WM Joe O’Brien who had very ably looked after the lodge during the pandemic. Joe completed the normal administrative business as if he had never been away from Freemasonry for 18 months. It was time for the lodge’s director of ceremonies to announce the principal guest Peter Greathead, and once the formal introductions had been completed, Joe moved to open the lodge to the second degree and start the installation.
Joe asked Ronnie Coles to act as installing senior warden, Stuart Brown to act as installing junior warden, Frank Kenyon to act as installing inner guard and the master elect was presented by Arthur Cartain. During the inner workings Ken Rennison was installed into the chair of King Solomon with all due reverence by Joe O’Brien.
The third degree tools were presented by Stuart Brown, the second degree tools were presented by Mark Mallinson and the first degree tools by Derick Gibson. The address to the master was given by Arthur Cartain. That hardest working brother of the lodge, director of ceremonies Alex Tomlinson, delivered the addresses to the wardens and the deacons and finally Peter Greathead rose from his seat to address the brethren.
Once the installation was completed Peter again rose to his feet to convey the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison to the new master and congratulated the installing master Joe O’Brien for an excellent installation.
Ken presented Peter with the lodge’s donations to charity, which were £500 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and £250 to Macmillan Cancer Support.
At the festive board the master’s song was delivered in style by John Darrell. A raffle raised an impressive £200 and to bring the curtain down on a wonderful installation Bob Major delivered the tyler’s toast.